Social Justice Advocates Christmas goal for transitional housing in sight

Sapphire Coast Turf Club CEO Rob Tweedie presents $1000 to SJASC's co-chair Gavin Bell. Photo: Jacob McMaster
Sapphire Coast Turf Club CEO Rob Tweedie presents $1000 to SJASC's co-chair Gavin Bell. Photo: Jacob McMaster

The Christmas goal for the Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast (SJASC) may be in sight but co-chair Mick Brosnan already has his eyes on the next hurdle.

In July the SJASC launched its campaign to raise $100,000 towards transitional housing for the shire's homeless. It was thought possible with the help of three major events which would donate funds.

Despite the three events - Sleep on it, Bega, Motorfest, Pambula and a major music event, not taking place because of COVID, the SJASC is within $5000 of the goal of $100,000.

On Sunday, November 28, Pambula Motorfest donated $10,000 and on Monday, November 29, the Sapphire Turf Club donated $1000.

"Without these major events, to raise that amount of money, it has been quite extraordinary," Mr Brosnan said.

"It reflects the empathy and compassion people have when they realise the problems faced by the homeless.

"There's a moral obligation and responsibility to look after our neighbours," Mr Brosnan said.

Once you get two people together it's political but people shouldn't confuse party politics with being political.

Mick Brosnan, co-chair Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast

The group has been accused of being political in its leadership of the homelessness issue, something Mr Brosnan dismisses.

"Once you get two people together it's political but people shouldn't confuse party politics with being political.

Mr Brosnan said it was the failure of politicians to take on homelessness that prompted the 'It's Up To Us' campaign.

'It's Up To Us' is focused on getting transitional accommodation in the shire for those who need temporary housing while they find their feet. Somewhere they can call home for months, rather than just days, providing stability, a permanent address and connection to support services.

We want to urge council to designate facilities or land. We could build a unit, I think that's do-able but we have to keep the campaign going.

Mick Brosnan, co-chair Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast

"We want to urge council to designate facilities or land. We could build a unit, I think that's do-able but we have to keep the campaign going to build on this. There is a crisis in housing stock but we have to start with small steps," Mr Brosnan said.

The SJASC has builders and other tradies who have volunteered their services.

Mr Brosnan continues to get calls for help every week, three or four times a week.

"We're working in concert with Mission Australia and we're getting constant calls," he said.

Caravans have played a major role

It's something expected to worsen with the holiday season starting, and people being asked to vacate caravan parks because they want the sites back, Mr Brosnan said.

"Last year I had to move a woman from a caravan park on December 24 and moved her back in again on January 6. This is not a life for people," he said.

Caravans have played a major role in helping those who had nothing.

Quite apart from the vans that were used for the homeless, the SJASC organised caravans for fire affected residents left homeless and without shelter.

The problem was of such proportions that the SJASC ended up buying, refurbishing and being given around 70 caravans just for those who lost everything in the Black Summer bushfires.

"I'm trying to get some of those vans back from the fire grounds, there's about 70; it blew out of all proportion," Mr Brosnan said.

They have two returned and believe about half are being lived in with others being used for storage.

Slow pace of bushfire recovery

Mr Brosnan is frustrated at the slow pace of recovery for the bushfire affected residents.

"Only 37 houses have been built since the fires and that means there's about 430 still to happen," he said.

A sanitation unit being installed on a bushfire affected property.

A sanitation unit being installed on a bushfire affected property.

But shortages of materials and trades people are taking a toll on the recovery.

"There was a lady in South Kiah who was told she would be in her new home in six months. That's a lie. People need to be honest about the situation," he said.

In between taking calls frome the homeless, moving caravans around the country, raising money for the transitional unit and lobbying everyone, Mr Brosnan is also involved in the supply and installation of sanitation units for bushfire survivors still living without toilets or running water on their own blocks.

He has three more sanitation units he wants to get installed before Christmas.

In the meantime Mr Brosnan and the SJASC are asking everyone to help get them over the line to their Christmas goal of raising the first $100,000 for transitional housing.

Donate to 'It's Up to Us' BSB 633 000 Acc 151 382 090 Social Justice Advocates of the Sapphire Coast.